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Astrakhan

Federal District: Southern
Founded: 1558
Population: 531 719 (2016 Census)
Area: 208,69 km2
Federal City Day: 3rd Sunday of September

Astrakhan is an old southern Russian city situated in the delta of the Volga River. Astrakhan has a rich history; before being conquered by Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century and thereby becoming part of the Russian Empire, Astrakhan was the capital of Khazaria (the famed Jewish Empire of the 8th and 9th centuries) and was a stronghold of the Golden Horde. In the 17th century Astrakhan was developed as Russia’s Gate to the Orient, and both Peter and Catherine the Great really promoted the industrial potential of the city. Astrakhan became a truly international city with its population composed of many different nationalities including Indian, Persian, Armenian, Russian, Khivian, Turkish and others. Nowadays its main form of industry is for caviar production.

Astrakhan is truly a place where East meets West and a unique Russian and Eastern city all at the same time. Older parts of Astrakhan are filled with wonderful examples of Russian architecture, the most notable of which are the Kremlin, built in the later 16th century-early 17th century, and the two impressive cathedrals. Also worth visiting are both the State Drama Theatre and also the State Ballet and Opera Theatre. If you get an opportunity it’s also recommended to go to the Fish Market to witness the vibrant trade in produce.

Direct trains and planes are available to/from Moscow, but being situated on the Volga one of the best ways to get to Astrakhan is by boat.

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